Pilgrim & Teacher: Meet Britt B Steele

Once or twice a month on Annapurna Living, we spotlight a creative entrepreneur who chooses to do business with integrity and soul. Today, please enjoy our conversation with Yogi & author, Britt B Steele.

Please introduce yourself.  Who are you?  

My name is Britt. I’m a thought leader, love preacher, and truth seeker. I’m an author, an unorthodox educator, a yoga teacher and teacher trainer, and maybe most importantly, I hold a lamp so others can see how amazing they are.

What do you do? 

I show people how to live their lives from a place of potent integration. I shine a light on the path for anyone standing in the dark, and I remind people how innately good they are because it seems so many of us have forgotten. It sounds esoteric, but its practical, powerful and simple. It’s powerful because once you realize what you are not, the only thing that remains is what you are.  And once you realize what you are (think the most amazing fullness that ever existed), nothing can bring you down—no injury, illness, loss, or tragedy.  In this way, the essence of who each person is penetrates all hardship and bondage, and what remains is an easeful knowing that you are the reason and the manifestation of all you have ever wanted, is now, and ever could be. This knowing—that we are powerful beyond measure and that we are part and parcel of the source of all of creation, exists silently, buried within each of us, waiting to be welcomed into the light. What I do is offer a step by step process to gently let go of unhealthy programming and doubt, showing you that the lens through which you have been looking at your life is more likely the problem—not your life itself. It makes me think of something Krisha Das says, “it’s like you were born with glasses glued to your face and you go around for years wondering why you can’t see clearly, come to find out, the glasses are the wrong prescription.” What I do is guide you through a journey of discovering your right prescription.  

How does your heart manifest in the world? 

My heart has manifest in the last year through my work and completion of my book, Pilgrim: Living Your Yoga Every Single Day and its corresponding 108 Day virtual pilgrimage, which is based around providing experiences for realizing that yoga isn’t something that you do on a yoga mat … it is what you are. My heart also can’t help but manifest in my yoga classes, retreats and teacher trainings held at our YogaFarm. Truthfully—it is the farm that is probably the most tangible way my heart has manifest. For nearly a decade before we built it, I slept with torn out magazine photos of the natural finishes and textures, the animals (all with their future names), the furniture—everything—watching over me in my dreams. The YogaFarm is where my husband and I live, but it was never built just for us—from the day we held our first puja (ceremony), one chilly Saturday morning, during an 18 minute window scheduled and appointed by a pundit in India, we built this place to be shared.

Why is your work important?

My work is important because there is an unspoken hunger to be loved and accepted—right here, right now. Every single longing (the job, the man, the perfect size or shape) is a longing for the divine. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t want to be encouraged, guided and given tools to integrate meaningful practical teachings into their lives in ways that are relevant, potent, and integral to what matters most. I am committed to getting out of the way and as Rumi says so perfectly, “I am a hole in the flute through which divine breath flows.” The flute player sends breath through this body and sweet music comes forth if I am open and clear to receive. My work is important because we are all holes in the flute.

As an entrepreneur, who in business do you admire and why?

Tara Gentile. I love her because she is a profoundly practical and bright micro-business educator who loves beer and Star Trek. I don’t like either of those things, which I find wonderful! Tara is generous, sharp, and refreshing and she wrote the most widely read article in Fast Company in 2015 and has an undergraduate degree in theology, of all things. (That could also be why I love her!)  She doesn’t have an MBA and I adore that about her too.  She is well-researched across various industries but doesn’t just lead or teach from books, she goes into the heart of her most valuable customers and she meets them there.  She knows how important it is for entrepreneurs to know what their customers are hungry for, and she has shown me how to be a part of meaningful, soulful conversations (like this one) and how to tap into what people are seeking and to then offer what is my unique value, in my unique way. 

What does soulful business mean to you?  

To me, soulful business is alignment at its finest—It’s about realizing that your life isn’t in the way of success, it is the way. So often we get hung up on the barriers that stand between where we are and where we want to be or what we want to accomplish.  Instead, I feel that being in “soulful business” is allowing everything that I am experiencing to be marked as nourishment. (After all, the best compost is made of some pretty stinky stuff!). As a soulful entrepreneur, I share what has touched my soul and what has made me stronger and more resilient. And I do it in a way that is clear, kind, and promising. Soulful business is all that—good for ALL—no exceptions. Nobody loses. Ever. There’s room enough for all of us. It is bringing forth that which is within me to the surface and then sharing all that I am from a place of abundance, rather than from a place of need or desire to “sell.” Here’s an example—I celebrate the “unsubscribes” on my mailing list—I want every person to be true to their own heart and to find what lights them up and guides them to their own awakening. If what I offer isn’t doing it for them, then I want them to mosey on and find their way to what will light their fire!! Soulful business is shining bright and connecting to those who are hungry for what you have to offer—if it’s 15 people or 15,000 people isn’t the point, and if it becomes the point, Soul has vacated the premises.

What motivates you?

My deep desire to give others what has been given to me—the tools and the “hidden jewels,” if you will, to manage the difficult times, to see light when shrouded in darkness, and to realize that each of us and all that we do is an integral, sacred part of a magnanimous, magical powerful universe. And on a practical level, I’m always looking for what gives me goosebumps. To me, goosebumps are God’s way of saying, “Pay attention, Sweets. This is good!”

What is the best piece of business advice you have received?

There’s a better way to run your business. Your way.  (Tara Gentile)

What is the best business advice you would give?

Get real. Stay real. My business started to flourish when I stopped paying attention to what others were doing and turned my attention within. Comparison and competition shut down cellular intelligence and counter everything I know to be true. And, so I stay focused on the “one big thing” I want to make manifest in the next six months and in the next year, and everything I do has to pass the litmus test for me to put energy into it. I also suggest that every entrepreneur befriend the naysayer within and get to know failure. Moments of self-doubt and judgment are part of charting unfamiliar territory, and making mistakes is part of the process.  Let both of these be your allies and then carry on and get done what needs to be done.  Every single day.  

How do you stay connected to loved ones when deeply entrenched in work?

I gotta take care of myself, and I gotta stay inspired. I look to every detail of my life to awaken inspiration. I like to think of it as “stalking” inspiration ... I can’t lose it. I’ve got to keep on its tail and focus my entire attention on staying close. For me, being deeply entrenched in work doesn’t stand in the way of connecting to my loved ones, it is the way. My work starts with taking care of myself—walking in nature, tending to my practice, praying, chanting, and taking a bath and dousing myself in sesame oil every chance I get (twice a day these days). When I do these things, and create healthy boundaries around how many hours I work and what type of projects I take on, I find the connection with loved ones happens naturally.  When I am connected to my own heart, I am connected to my loved ones—because that’s where they reside—in my heart. And this can be extrapolated out as well—for connection is what I seek everywhere.  I seek to be connected through my work, through my students and clients, and through the teachings and teachers that inspire me. It all starts by connecting to my own heart, and that all comes from finding moments of stillness where I can hear what is wanting to come through to me, be willing to let in what is on the edge of my being, and then to do what is required of me to realize that what I seek is already within me.  

What is your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?  How do you work with or around it?

Pushing to the point of depletion. In yoga we call this “rajas” or simply stated, “an object in motion wants to remain in motion” (even if its headed for a cliff). I often wish there were three of me (but that would probably just leave me three times the challenge). I feel like there is so much goodness moving through me that I want to share it, manifest it, create, and make magic, and sometimes I can get moving so fast and voraciously that I get a little too close to that cliff.  How I work with it is to let go of being rigid with the wrong things (anytime I hear myself saying, “I gotta push through this” or “I gotta get this done” that’s a give away that I’m heading toward depletion) and instead, I need to be “rigid” with the softer things in life like taking baths and meditating, and taking a break to go for a walk in the forest or to take in some nourishment. I work with my challenges by insisting upon self-care and refueling so I can stay juicy and inspired.

When you feel burned out or uninspired, what lights your fire again?  Please share a personal mantra, motto, or ritual for when you feel drained.  How do you stay nourished and inspired as a soulful creative?

For me, I need a break from everything for about five days—no computer, no social media. The last trip my husband and I took I packed an unlined journal and colored markers and spent the afternoon on three consecutive afternoons drawing, mind mapping, and doodling—no words, just images. I had woman after woman say, “that looks fun.” They had no idea I was working on a very important project. It was important, actually. On the last day of our trip, I used the colored markers to sketch out my weekly calendar and realized that by activating my right brain, I had tapped into all of the ways I could care for myself and had scheduled in a lot of rest and study and “open” blocks of time—which is exactly what I need.  

How do you start your work day?

In order to answer that question, I have to first say that my work day essentially begins the night before. In order for me access inspiration in the morning, I have to take great care of myself the night before—this means eating well, gently easing into the evening, and getting a great night sleep.  If the night before is disheveled, so too will be my morning. That’s just how it works. My actual “work day” doesn’t start until 9 am (by design), but my morning starts about 3-4 hours before that. This is my time to tap in to the elements that inform everything I do. During these hours I have a mantra I chant 108 times (it’s personal, or I’d share), I say my morning devotions (gratitudes and a prayer to be a clear, open vessel), and I do a gentle yoga practice (only 20 minutes or so). I also take the time to make and a super nutritious breakfast (sometimes looks more like a dinner than a breakfast—I trust what I am hungry for). I take a bath and do the morning feeding and mucking of the farm critters—which I welcome because getting outside and taking in the sights, smells and sounds awakens me and reminds me that at my core, I am part of nature. By the time I sit down at my desk, I am invigorated, inspired and ready for what is next.

When did you first realize you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I never made that decision. I still haven’t, really. I don’t actually think of myself to be an entrepreneur. I see what I do as an extension of divinity moving through me, and I know that in order to share what I do, I must have reach, and in order to have reach, I do stuff (write, social media, do interviews, offer workshops and trainings), and that brings forth an exchange of energy—my offering for donations or fees paid to me, and that money makes it possible for me to not concern myself with food and shelter and all that stuff… and so I do that, go to bed, and wake up tomorrow and do it all over again. That’s a long way of saying that being an entrepreneur isn’t a role I pursued, but more of a label I guess I’ve been given based upon a conglomeration of my choices.

Do you have a first memory from childhood that connects you to what you have created today?

I think about my book, Pilgrim, and how when I was a little girl I was forever packing up my purse and heading into the forest or pasture to go on some adventure. I’d sit under the boughs of a tree and write letters to God or journal in my keyed diary about what was important to me and what the trees were saying. I’d sometimes choose a tree with its boughs very broad and close to the earth and lay out a blanket and crawl into the darkness, looking out at the world. With Pilgrim, I am journeying all the time—into foreign lands right in my back yard, or right behind the busyness of my mind. I can see when I think about this memory that I have always been a seeker of sorts—a pilgrim in search of the Holy.

What did you want to be when you were a little girl?

Ha! I wanted to be a gymnast or the Pope. (I was tall, uncoordinated, female... and I always wanted to be married someday so neither of those worked out for me.) 

What did you know you did NOT want to be?

Without Love. I know that isn’t probably wasn’t what you were looking for, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind. I remember lying on the hillside when I was about 11 and having this strong sense that love is all there is. That underpins everything I do. In the darkest times, I am constantly looking for the love. That’s in my work too. If I feel inspired, I know others will feel that way too.  And if what I am doing turns me on, I feel some sort of responsibility to get it out there for others to receive.

What’s the biggest “lesson” you’ve learned through your experience in business?

My business is a part of my life and my life a part of my business—there is no other way for me.  It’s the way I stay balanced, connected to my own heart, and inspired—which means it is the only way I can support, teach and inspire others. When I feel my energy waning, I sleuth out the tiniest fraction of a moment where I feel inspired and I, very consciously, stay with it—a flower, the way the air smells, an image, the way the light hits something mundane, or an interaction I have with a client or student. I imbibe it. Oh, and another lesson I’ve learned is that it is a really good idea to learn how to fall, because at some point, you’re going to do so, and having had some experience with it will quicken the healing process. 

Britt B Steele

If you could do or make something every day that you give away, what would it be?

I’d create a limitless supply of 24 K gold seeds, that when you held one in your hand, you’d remember that you are enough, exactly as you are, whole and complete, without a second.  You’d feel in every cell in your body that everything you have is here because you ordered it and everything is a blessing—an opportunity to learn, heal, serve, and surrender.  I’d also make small cast totems for students and seekers to align them to carry in their pockets, put on the dashboard, or on their altar to remind them of their magnificence.  

Please share any messages, wisdom, stories or insights you have gathered through your entrepreneurial journey.

I have a hand-written poster in my office that hangs in clear view that reads, “Lead myself and others will follow.”  For me, this means that I have to stay clean (eat right, get a good night sleep, move my body). Stay open. Get in—and stay in—my heart when I write, teach, create, or manifest in order for my offerings to come through as potent and integrated.

About Britt—

Britt B Steele is a thought leader, truth seeker, and yoga teacher in the Portland area.  She is the author of Pilgrim: Live Your Yoga Every Single Day and its corresponding 108 Day online Immersion. She is a guiding light in the yoga & ayurveda worlds, dedicated to bringing their powerful & simple teachings to the forefront of life today. She works with students to discover the hidden depths of yoga and to be a guide in bringing these potent teachings into day to day life. Britt lives with her husband at Deva Daaru YogaFarm, an hour outside Portland, Oregon where she hosts yoga teacher trainings retreats, and bases her online programs. Learn more about Britt on her websiteFacebookInstagramSoundcloud, and Vimeo.